A dilema


8 Years
Mar 11, 2011
Linden, NC
A long story but we ended up with 4 one week old chicks and their broody mom.

We have a six by four raised (3 ft) coop and 200 sq feet of run space but the coop space is not conducive to brooding chicks separately.

Last evening Mom decides that the chicks need to hit the ground (at one week). They got down to the ground just fine. Helicoptered down to a controlled crash. Bedtime was a chore of course. I had to hold Mom while DW captured the wee ones. Mom gave them a galllant effort to show them how to get up the ramp. And finally gave up, pulled the chicks under her. Lots of snakes this year so I wasn't going to allow that.

The five adult birds seem to be just fine with the chicks. This morning when I opened the door, all came out followed by Mom and chicks. I observed for a while and the adults seem to ignore them unless they get underfoot.

I tend to let chickens be chickens and am old school in my thinking but I am open to suggestions.

Option 1: Let it run its course and hope for the best.

Option 2: Partition off a corner of the coop and keep them confined for a while. But Mom can exit when she needs to.

Option 3: Set up a grow out coop and separate Mom and chicks. Or just the chicks.

I'd see if I could tweek the ramp a little to help the babies get up. Otherwise, I'd just help them in when it's bedtime.
I separate hen and chicks from confined birds. Logic based on disease management. Adults carry parasites that have little or no effect on the adults but enable more intense exposure of chicks to such parasites before bitties immune systems can ramp up to control parasites. This is only an issue with confined birds where forage is extremely limited and feces from adults is concentrated. With reduced exposure, young birds by 5 weeks will have developed the immune system and size needed to join balance of flock.

With respect to getting bitties into elevated coop, simply provide a box with elevated sides for hen to enter with chicks without requiring your direct intervention. Chicks seem to lack mindset needed to go to elevated locations as a group until at least 3 weeks of age and usually 5 or more weeks.
I leave mine with the flock, as there is no reintroduction issue, for either broody or chicks. Last year, I lost my broody and several chicks when the chicks were just short of 4 weeks old. The remaining chicks were already part of the flock, and remained with them just fine.

However, I do free range quite a bit, and when the chicks are born, I get down there early and let the layers out, and in my run there are several hideouts, and obstacles. But generally the broody hen, stays between the layers and the chicks, and the chicks quickly learn to stay close to mom.

As to the ramp, I think that I would just leave it as is, letting your broody hen go in and scooping up and lifting any chick that does not make the ramp for a couple of days. They will quickly figure it out and become strong enough to do it.

You might try a box in the run, just a small box, put some hay into it, and make a nest. If mama likes it, she will tuck in with them in there, and you could lift the whole thing into the coop at night.

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